Nebraska’s Motor Vehicle (Vehicular) Homicide Laws and Penalties

A motorist who kills another person while committing a traffic offense can be charged with motor vehicle homicide.

Nebraska defines “motor vehicle homicide” (sometimes called “vehicular homicide”) as causing the death of another person while driving in violation of any state law or local ordinance. However, the penalties for a conviction depend on the type of traffic violation that led to the death (see below).

Causation. A motorist can’t be convicted of motor vehicle homicide unless there’s proof that the motorist’s driving was a legal cause of the death. In other words, there needs to be a direct link between the defendant’s driving and the death.

(Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 28-306 (2017).)

Motor Vehicle Homicide Penalties

The consequences of a Nebraska motor vehicle homicide conviction depend on the circumstances. But the possible penalties are:

  • Traffic violation-related offenses. In most situations where a traffic violation leads to a death, the driver is guilty of motor vehicle homicide as a class I misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 in fines.
  • Reckless driving-related offenses. A motor vehicle homicide offense that involves reckless driving is a class IIIA felony. A conviction carries up to three years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 in fines. The offender will also be on post-release supervision for nine to 18 months.
  • Offenses involving DUI or driving on a revoked license. Generally, a motor vehicle homicide offense that involves driving under the influence (DUI) or driving on a revoked license is a class IIA felony. Convicted motorists face up to 20 years in prison and a one-to-15-year license revocation. And if the offense involves DUI or driving on a revoked license and the driver has a prior DUI or driving-on-a-revoked-license conviction, the offense is a class II felony. Anyone convicted of motor vehicle homicide as a class II felony is looking at one to 15 years in prison and a 15-year license revocation.

(Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-105, 28-106, 28-306 (2017).)

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior, “suspended” sentences, and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

Motor vehicle homicide is a serious criminal charge that can result in a long prison sentence. If you’ve been arrested for motor vehicle homicide—or any other crime—get in contact with a criminal defense attorney right away. The facts of every case are different. An experienced defense attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best plan of action.

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